Police are re-appealing for the public’s help in solving the murder of six-year-old Rikki Neave in Peterborough almost 21 years ago.
Rikki was last seen leaving for school at around 9am on Monday, November 28, 1994, from his home in Redmile Walk, Welland.
He is believed to have been wearing grey trousers, a white shirt, black shoes and a blue coat.
Rikki’s body was found in a wooded area off Eye Road, close to Willoughby Court, the following day - five minutes’ walk from his house in the Welland Estate.
A post mortem examination concluded that Rikki had died as a result of being strangled.
Despite a lengthy investigation at the time no one has ever been brought to justice in relation to Rikki’s death.
Det Supt Paul Fullwood, who is runs the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit and is leading the investigation, said the investigation was being treated as if the murder had happened yesterday, and detectives had no individual suspects.
He said: “Following a detailed review by the Major Crime Unit’s cold case team we are now in a position to re-launch the investigation into the murder of Rikki Neave in 1994.
“There have been major forensic and technological developments in the past 20 years and significant changes in the way we approach murder investigations.
“This investigation will be led by a team of dedicated officers from within the unit with specialist skills and knowledge in the investigation of major crime. We are also supported by specialist advisors in many key areas.”
There have been major forensic and technological developments in the past 20 years and significant changes in the way we approach murder investigations.Det Supt Paul Fullwood
A team of 20 to 30 dedicated officers will be looking into the case in the specialist investigation team that has been set up.
Det Supt Fullwood said: “The team has experience of investigating cold cases. We had success bringing to justice the killer of (Peterborough woman) Sally Anne McGrath 31 years after she died.
“We have a team of 20 to 30 detectives on the case, all homicide detectives with their own specialisms and can call on up to 200 more officers during the case.
“Nobody on this investigation was involved in the original investigation in 1994, and we have made a very clear point to keep it seperate. We have contacted a couple of officers on the original investigation and will be making contact with everyone on the original investigation to see if they can support us an provide any information that can assist in our investigation.”
The team has been in Welland today, and a mobile police office has been set up. A large number of posters with Rikki’s picture on have been placed around the estate on lamp posts and bus stops appealing for information.
Det Supt Fullwood said: “We are showing a visible police presence on the Welland estate. There will be someone who has that small, insignificant in their mind, piece of information that could be absolutely relevant for one of the lines of enquiry,
The case was re-opened after a thorough review of evidence.
Det Supt Fullwood said: “Every unsolved homicide is reviewed every two years, and in this particular case it had been reviewed, but nothing had changed.
“Round about two years ago there was some interest from the family, and what was happening with the case, We took it on to initiate a comprehensive review.
“We now have a cold case review team in our Major Crime Unit which we have not had in the past.”
Officers are now trying to trace people who lived in and around the Welland area at the time - both people they spoke to and others who they did not in the previous investigation.
Det Supt Fullwood said: “All murder is tragic but when a young child is involved it is truly devastating. We owe it to Rikki and his family to find whoever was responsible for his murder and ensure they are brought to justice.
“We are therefore seeking the public’s help and would particularly like to speak to people who came forward before but maybe did not tell us everything they knew or people who perhaps have information about the case but didn’t want to talk to police at the time.
“It may be that you were a child at the time and didn’t want to speak up but now, as an adult and perhaps a parent yourself, you feel it is time to do so.
“I strongly believe there are people out there who have significant information about Rikki’s death and for a valid reason didn’t speak to police at the time. Now is their opportunity to do the right thing and share that secret they have had to keep for more than 20 years.”
If you have information, call 01480 425882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can give information anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555111.